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East Phillips/Ventura Village Students can earn Free College Credit and Personalize their Education

 PSEO students Asiya Browne and Zeke Jackson testifying at the Minnesota legislature about the value of PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options)
Photo credit: Joe Nathan


East Village/Ventura Village students and families have terrific opportunities to earn free college credit and/or personalize their education in upcoming months, thanks to free public school programs. Encouraged by families, Minnesota legislators and educators have created great opportunities for young people to identify and develop their unique gifts, talents and interests as they acquire vital basic and applied life skills.

Free College Courses

One of the most valuable opportunities for high school students is the option to earn free college credit through certain courses taught in high school, on-line, or on college campuses.  

Free Minnesota Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) courses are available in academic and “hands on” vocational subjects. Many are not aware that beginning in 10th grade, students can take free vocational courses at two-year public colleges such as St Paul College and the Finishing Trade Institute. Once in 11 and 12th grade, access expands to free academic or vocational courses at many local colleges and universities. Admission requirements vary.

PSEO courses are offered in person on college campuses or online, and State law requires that students be allowed to use high school computers for PSEO courses. The deadline to register for fall PSEO classes is May 30. To learn more visit


10th and 12th grade students proficient in any of 27 world languages can earn free credit at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities simply by passing a test (no course required). Languages include ASL, Arabic, Chinese, Dakota, French, German, Hmong, Karen, Ojibwe, Somali and Spanish, among others. For information, visit

College Credit for High School Courses

Virtually every Minneapolis district and charter high school offers college level courses – called Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Concurrent Enrollment/College in Schools. College credit for AP and IB is based mostly or entirely on students’ final exam scores. College credit for other courses depends on students’ work throughout the term. Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education explains dual credit college/university acceptance policies here:

Post High School Planning

Minnesota requires every student, working with their family and educators, to develop a post high school plan. Personalized education builds on students’ interests and talents, which helps increase student motivation to learn.

Public School Programs

Minneapolis Public Schools offers many valuable options such as language immersion, Montessori, on-line, project based learning and others. Learn more at:

Charter School Programs

East Phillips/Ventura Village families also have free charter public school options, including Wildflower Montessori, Hennepin Schools, Loveworks Academy, Venture Academy and others. A map of charter locations is here:

Minnesota has developed numerous opportunities for personalized learning over the last 30+ years. These opportunities are found within school districts as well as at chartered, private, home and online schools. Their availability gives options for thousands of students to learn to their potential while also being a resource for traditional learning. Expansion of personalized learning will benefit our increasingly diverse student population while also improving traditional learning for all. School leaders and policy makers should make its growth a priority. 

Joe Nathan has been a Minneapolis and St Paul Public School educator, parent and PTA president. He directs the Center for School Change, based in St Paul. Questions/reactions welcome:

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